Caring for the foundation of your home is an intensive practice. Even the most diligent of homeowners can’t predict when or where their foundation may crack. There are some signs, though, that you can look out for if you anticipate or suspect a crack. Take a gander through this guide to learn about the different kinds of cracks you may have to contend with and what preventive steps you can take to preserve your home.
Your Foundation Is Cracking – Why?
Indiana just about takes the cake for inconsistent weather patterns. What does this have to do, though, with your foundation and the likelihood it may crack?
The material particles that make up your foundation respond to the temperature outdoors. As the weather warms, these particles tend to expand. As the weather grows colder, these particles will shrink. Because Indiana’s weather patterns are so unpredictable, your foundation may grow and shrink several times over the course of a single day.
Unfortunately, that kind of change puts a lot of stress on your foundation. Cracks, like stretch marks, are likely to appear as your foundation tries to accommodate those changes.
Know Your Foundation Cracks
When or if your foundation cracks, it will likely crack in one of three ways. These three primary crack types include:
- Vertical Cracks. If the contractor who built your home used green wood as your supports, you may find yourself dealing with a vertical crack. These types of cracks are the result of excess pressure placed upon wood than has not yet had time to harden. You may be dealing with a vertical crack if you notice the walls of your basement or crawl space starting to sag.
- Horizontal Cracks. Many older homes in Indianapolis, IN, have foundations made out of concrete or brick. Unfortunately, these homes are prone to horizontal cracks. These cracks most frequently form due to an excess of stress. When your home settles, your foundation is contracting and growing in response to changes in the temperature. If the temperature changes too quickly – and in Indianapolis, it frequently does – then a crack may form as your foundation tries to accommodate a natural physical reaction.
- Diagonal Cracks. The same pattern of rapid contraction and growth can cause a diagonal crack to appear in your foundation. These cracks, however, most frequently appear in foundations that settle unevenly. Keep an eye out to see if one side of your basement floods more frequently than the other. If it does, that will be the side on which a diagonal crack originates, should one ever appear in your foundation.
If you have a crack in your foundation, you’re going to need to work with a contractor to seal it before moving forward with any additional waterproofing solutions. After all, you can’t adequately tend to the symptoms of a crack before handling the core problem.
Symptoms of a Foundation Crack
You’re not always going to be able to see a crack in your foundation. However, there are some signs that will give a crack away after one develops. These signs include:
- Unpleasant Smells
- Decreasing temperatures in your basement or crawl space
- Pest infestations
- Leaks and water damage
Do note, though, that these are the same signs that help you determine whether or not your basement or crawl space is leaking. You’ll need to work with a contractor to determine whether you have a standard leak on your hands or if you need to invest in foundation repairs.
Preventing Foundation Cracks
The good news is that there are several different ways you can prevent cracks from forming in your foundation. These solutions include:
- Waterproof your foundation. When dampness or standing water makes its way inside your home, it lowers the temperature of the entire space. If your foundation is frequently in contact with this kind of dampness or water, then it may undergo more severe temperature fluctuations than the ones Indianapolis already forces upon it. When you waterproof your foundation – using French drains, sump pumps, dehumidifiers, vapor barriers or temporary sealants – you prevent water from having this effect. No water, no cracks!
- Keep gunk and leaves out of your gutters. You’ll also want to ensure that any precipitation run-off makes its way away from the perimeter of your home. One of the best ways to do this is to keep your gutters clean. It’s no fun for anyone, but ensuring that rainwater doesn’t come barreling down on your perimeter may mean the difference between extensive foundation repairs and easy living in the years to come.
- Water your lawn. It seems odd to recommend watering your lawn after recommending you redirect water away from your home. However, the soil around your home can help you mitigate any foundational flooding. Soil particles grow and shrink depending on the amount of water they come into contact with. If your lawn is especially dry, one heavy rain may send water straight toward your foundation. If you invest in a sprinkler system, you won’t have to deal with leaks that are as destructive.
- Landscape carefully. You’ll also want to do what you can to keep trees with extensive root systems at least 20 feet away from your home. Sprawling roots can disrupt your foundation and cause cracks without the help of the weather.
If you think your foundation may have cracked, or if you want to work to prevent a crack, be sure to reach out to an Indianapolis contractor for a free inspection and estimate as soon as possible.